The Table – Karen Suzuki

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I had no idea I would end up as an artist, and actually when I was at school wanted to be a meteorologist, though ended up studying linguistic theory at university. I hadn’t studied art at school and started doing art for fun at my local college’s evening classes. It just went from there.

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

Actually I studied ceramics (under- and post-graduate) at art school, so it has changed quite a lot! But even my textiles work has changed dramatically since I started doing it in around 2006. I was just playing around to begin with, as I have no textiles training. The development is organic – I have no definite plan for how it evolves.

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making?   Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I have no particular way of approaching the day’s work, other than getting the coffee on. I can’t concentrate fully on work unless there’s a mug of coffee on the desk! And time of day doesn’t seem to make a difference.

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

I find repetition stultifying (though enjoy remaking a handful of characters such as bad bunnies and bees), preferring to embrace change. I’m not naturally a one-medium person, although working with textiles seems quite natural and inspiring, because of its flexibility and potential for variety. My studio, however, is packed with other materials, and bits of projects that are not strictly visual art. Time is the biggest constraint – if there was more time available I would be working in a variety of media. So for the future, who knows.

What would/has been your ideal commission?

I don’t do many commissions, and am not sure what my ideal would be, but I have to say that making the lobster for The Table has been my most fun commission to date!

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you? Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

I think these days a mix is needed of different ways of showing and selling work if an artist is to succeed. But seeing work online is no match for looking at the real thing – it’s a completely different experience, and it’s hard to really look properly at a piece of work, or contemplate it fully, in an image, just as looking at a picture in a book is a remove from the real thing. So I don’t think galleries can be replaced. We need to be able to experience works of art directly to fully appreciate them.

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

The recent exhibition of David Lynch’s visual art at HOME in Manchester was wonderful. I’m a long-time fan of his films and TV, so to see his artwork for real was hugely inspiring. I also found the Alice Kettles exhibition at the Whitworth last year awe-inspiring. An incredible body of work, and very moving.

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

I admit I’ve had little time to think about future plans, though would like to try and progress some of the many other projects (not all sewing) that have been started over the last year or so. I think the work will just keep going on and evolving in the organic way it has in the past. I rather like that way of working, not knowing how things will turn out. A definite for 2020 though is that I’ll be at the wonderful Craft Festival in Cheltenham Town Hall in March, for the third time. Very much looking forward to that.




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